Education should be about helping children to live life expressively and to always be curious, said Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev at the Global Education and Skills Forum (GESF) 2017. Photo courtesy of Isha Foundation.

KUALA LUMPUR: Education should be about helping children to live life expressively and to always be curious, said Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev at the Global Education and Skills Forum (GESF) 2017.

The world-renowned yogi, author and thought-leader noted that the current education systems do not take into account children’s individual sensibilities and talents but train young people in a uniform or ‘packaged’ way.

The purpose of this, he said, was to feed the needs of the global economy rather than teach young people to expand their horizons.

“This type of education will smother human genius. Nothing new and wonderful will happen.

“We are only teaching our children to exploit everything,” he said in his keynote speech at the two-day education conference held in Dubai, today.

Instead, Sadhguru advocates children being given incentives to expand their knowledge more organically than many education systems enable them to do now.

The spiritual leader explained that today’s education systems were too standardised and fail to achieve a number of fundamental goals.

“Education has to be about every human being becoming a ‘seeker’,” he said.

The limitations Sadhguru perceives in today’s education systems also extend to a lack of inclusiveness.

He stressed that achieving inclusiveness greatly depends on personal experience.

“We all suffer from limited identities, defining ourselves along racial, ethnic, religious and other divisive lines.

“When we talk about people, we don’t refer to them as humans. We refer to them as Indians, Americans, Emiratis or whatever else.

“We need to overcome limited identities by experiencing other people as part of ourselves.”

He, therefore, advocates that every child under the age of 10 should experience as many cultures, nations and religions as possible to help foster greater inclusiveness.

Sadhguru also called for at least 50 per cent of school curricula around the world to be made up of common, global education, alongside more nationally driven educational content.

In using the word ‘common’, he stressed that this did not mean boxing up educational content but rather ensuring that this content had common global ground.

“We need to breed inclusiveness into every child,” he added.

GESF 2017, a Varkey Foundation initiative, is held at The Atlantis, Dubai, from March 18 to 19 with leading figures from public, private and social sectors in attendance.

Varkey Foundation founder Sunny Varkey said: “We are honoured that Sadhguru will be joining us as we try to weave together the best way to help children become true global citizens.

“In a world that can look increasingly divided, Sadhguru’s combination of traditional wisdom and modern scientific methods have never been more relevant to help bring us together.”

Named one of India’s 50 most influential people, Sadhguru is a yogi, mystic, bestselling author and poet. He has been conferred the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second-highest civilian award.

He has been a delegate to the United Nations World Headquarters as the primary speaker on International Day of Yoga in 2016, and addressed the Indian Economic Summit 2005-2008, World Economic Forum in Davos, and the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit.

Some of the most renowned education institutes and universities across the world including Oxford, Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Wharton and MIT, have hosted his talks.

For the last 30 years, Sadhguru’s vision for transforming the world has taken shape through his Isha Foundation – including in education.

The Isha Vidhya project aims to make education accessible and affordable in rural areas. Students are equipped to meet the challenges of the future, and to benefit from India’s economic growth.

The fifth annual GESF, held under the patronage of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, focuses on the theme of “How to make real global citizens”.

Among key speakers spearheading the sessions are Sadhguru, Julia Gillard, 27th Prime Minister of Australia, Thomas Friedman, NY Times columnist and Pulitzer Prize winning author, Irina Bokova, director-general of Unesco, Andreas Schleicher, director for the Directorate of Education and Skills, OECD, Tariq Al Gurg, CEO of Dubai Cares and Jim Ryan, 11th Dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Widely referred to as ‘the Davos of Education’, the GESF debates new ways for education to transform our world, with the event culminating in the announcement of the winner of the US$1million (RM4.4 million) Global Teacher Prize 2017.

This year, a teacher from Sabah, Mohd Sirhajwan Idek, 29, of Keningau Vocational College made the country proud by being the only Malaysian to have made it to the Top 50 of the prestigious Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2017 award.

He was shortlisted from over 20,000 nominations and applications from 179 countries.

In 2015, Madenjit Singh, a teacher with the Science of Life Studies 24/7 organisation, under the Grassroots Development Institute, in Malaysia was shortlisted as a Top 10 finalist. Also nominated that year was Yasmin Noorul Amin of La Salle Petaling Jaya.

Last year Noorjahan Sultan of SK Indera Mahkota Utama in Kuantan, Pahang, and Vanesri Kasi of SJK (T) Jalan Khalidi in Muar, Johor made it to the Top 50.

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